English /// 中文
Photo Credit: Chen Wei-Ting
Translation: Brian Hioe
From the anti-media monopoly movement in 2012, through the Dapu incident in Miaoli to the Sunflower Movement, Chen Wei-Ting has in many important social movements for the sake of society, participated in every activity. But even so, Chen Wei-Ting has been a controversial figure.
In the middle of the battle for 2016 legislative elections, the famous Chen Wei-Ting of the Sunflower Movement was earnestly requested by Chiu Hsien-Chih to be his campaign manager.
New Bloom took the opportunity to interview both Chiu and Chen during Chiu Hsien-Chih’s visit to the US on August 30th.
Edward Liu: Wei-Ting, can you discuss why you would want to help Mr. Chiu’s campaign?
Chen Wei-Ting: Personally, I feel this campaign confronts a place in which both the KMT and DPP are strong. This is a challenge. Of course, we hope to knock down the KMT, but also hope to compete with the DPP, to show where the the DPP is conservative on some issues.
EL: Then why enter the New Power Party after the Sunflower Movement? A lot of participants joined the DPP after, but you decided on the New Power Party? The reason is…?
CWT: From last year’s social movement, I largely acted on the basis of intuition. From 2012’s anti-media monopoly movement to the Sunflower Movement, a lot of times I felt that I should just do some things, so I went out and did them.
Like during the time of the anti-media monopoly movement, three days before the merger case was going to pass, at 5 AM in morning I couldn’t sleep, so I called Lin Fei-Fan up. He also couldn’t believe this thing was going to happen and couldn’t sleep. So I said to him, “Let’s charge the day after tomorrow”. Back then there was no organization, the next day I grabbed a few people to hold a meeting, and the day after that we charged. 318 also. At that time I wasn’t in the Black Island Youth Alliance, just I felt that people should go do something.
And I feel that with Taiwan at this time, there needs to be a progressive third party. This is without doubt. To be honest, the Third Force parties came too late, they should have come out at time of nine-in-one elections. It’s slowed down a lot. If we didn’t come out now, it would be hard to preserve existing political achievements.
Therefore, my priority on joining a Third Force party was a natural course of events, for me more so than joining the DPP. But it’s not to say this is more noble. I have social movement friends around my age also working in the DPP, struggling hard to do different things, participating in the presidential elections. I feel this is all good. After all, if there’s the opportunity, we can do some things for Taiwan together in future.
EL: Why did you pick the New Power Party and not the DPP or a different Third Force party?
CWT: I hope more to struggle with legislative districts. This is more challenging.
I feel like with the Green Party, Social Democratic Party, and New Power Party, there are some differences in their electoral campaign strategies. One one hand, there is the strategy which places importance on party votes, on the other hand, there is the strategy hoping to go through electoral campaigns in districts to win seats, while also fighting for party votes. And if you want to win districts, you can’t pick a district with a large gap in votes that even the DPP is afraid to place their famous electoral candidates as district candidates there. That way, it’s also hard to grab space.
EL: So the Social Democratic Party, Green Party, and New Power Party, from your standpoint, have similar ideals? You would help the New Power Party because you’re particularly interested in Hsinchu’s legislative campaign? Or because of electoral considerations?
CWT: Of course I have many friends who feel that the New Power Party is not very progressive. But to my understanding, after the movement, the split between parties is because of the problem of trust. In the past, if there was not the experience of working together too much in social movements, to complete something, the price would be very high. If working together has too high a price, working together might not necessarily be a good thing, so why insist on it?
And the important reason why I picked the New Power Party is because I wanted to throw myself into this election district. Up to now, of all the electoral campaigns of Third Force parties, this probably has the most back and forth, and has succeeded in inciting controversy. We came together because we believed in reforming the legislature after 2016. But in other electoral districts, its hard to coordinate, because fundamentally the disparity between political camps is very large, and without any DPP electoral candidates, it’s easy to be overlooked
EL: Then as campaign manager for Chiu Hsien-Chih, what strategies do you employ to win in your district?
CWT: Hsinchu voters can be divided into three categories.
For the first group, we might note that Hsinchu is a very special city. The proportion of people from outside is very high. From nine-in-one elections, we can see why Tsai Jen-Chien hasn’t run for office in over ten years, but can still win so many votes. Actually what is important is that Hsinchu residents are young, Hsinchu residents are willing to take a deep look at policy and discuss online who is more diversified or which policies can win more support. This is what we work hard to consolidate.
Outside of that, apart from big political questions, we will also emphasize some questions related to the everyday life of residents of Hsinchu. For example, in the middle of the election campaign, we encountered the problem of childcare, unaffordable real estate, these kinds of things will be a key point in the election campaign. This also matches with the situation of our candidate. Chiu Hsien-Chih himself is a father with two kids, and up to now is still renting a house.
The second group is traditional deep green voters. With them, we will be faced with a lot of doubts, everyone will ask, why did you not join together with the DPP? But we worry about this less, because a lot of green voters don’t buy old Ker’s excuses anymore. Even if old Ker is very well known among Hsinchu voters, dissatisfaction is also very high. We believe that we can persuade them, Chiu Hsien-Chih is a candidate with the potential to expand roots, but of course we need to spend more time doing this.
The third group is old KMT soldier voters. The most surprising thing is we’ve made contact with a lot of past Hsinchu military dependents, what is very unexpected is they express approval of us. Many of these military dependents, do not live in military dependent’s villages, and after being driven out of military dependent’s villages, they live in illegal residences. These dependents became marginalized individuals in society. They’ve suffered a lot because of the Ministry of Defense, so towards Chiu Hsien-Chih’s long history of demonstrating against the Ministry of Defense, they can really understand why he would do that. This is not an ethnic problem of waishengren and benshengren, but a class one.
This is framework by which we address these three important types of voters. We will see how to continue to carry this out. In the past few months, what is important is thinking of policy, looking for research materials, then doing interviews, and drawing conclusions.
Continuing onwards, what is important is to take care of is advertising and organization. Of course, our situation can’t compare with having a lot of people, whether in regards to policy or anything else. In Taichung, Mayor Lin Chia-Lung has an entire think tank, and we are mostly college students and graduate students. How do we do policy? Our important fight is in legislative reform, so we earnestly debate with Minority Whip Ker over these issues.
Our first problem to take care of is, why are we more more representative of the voters? But this is harder to grasp. During this period, why do we target Minority Whip Ker? Looking at it, we actually don’t take the initiative in attacking, a lot of times, we are reacting. For example, last week, his office compiled two articles, we responded with one. But this is directed against legislative reform as a confrontation of policy. This is what is harder to observe in the election campaigns in districts of other Third Force candidates.
This is also our difference with the electoral strategy of the Social Democratic Party. They use the party to organize discussion of policy and sometimes will criticize the DPP, but the DPP doesn’t respond. Because in regards to party votes, it is hard to challenge the DPP. But today in district campaigns, when you have to decide between specific people, the other side is required to respond. This allows for positive political discussion.
Outside of legislative reform, confronting Ker Chien-Ming and places where the DPP is in power, we’ve encountered some issues about land. The mayor who just took power was Ker Chien-Ming’s former assistant. These past few months, he has begun to organize public hearings for plans to develop the city. At every month’s hearing, you will see many crying residents. Within these cases, you can also see a lot of past land development under the KMT which had been halted, but now it’s the the construction companies close to the DPP leading it. After taking power, they began doing this openly and without fear. This is something that will affect people.
The other part is confronting the KMT candidate, Zheng Zhengjian. What is more troublesome is, he doesn’t have any important platforms. His only issue is direct cross-strait flights between Hsinchu and Pingtan Island. In the past, the KMT in Hsinchu wanted to establish direct cross-strait flights, because Hsinchu is the closest placed to Pingtan Island in China. The CCP relies on Pingtan Island as part of the United Front against Taiwan. When the KMT was in power in Hsinchu, they pushed for this in spite of opposition. Their only consideration is that this would bring tourists from the mainland. After the DPP took power, this plan was stopped. But recently the KMT’s Hsinchu branch office and Zheng Zhengjian is pursuing this issue again. This is also something we will focus on during our electoral campaign more in the future.
Then there is advertising. What is important is the Internet, to address news topics every day, to share images with commentaries, and to use these kinds of methods for commentary to let people understand our policy and stances. We also can’t have too little of traditional paper advertising materials.
Last is organization. Old Ker and Tsai Ing-Wen, with the opening up of election headquarters in DPP central had three thousand people show up. But we began with zero. Traditionally, there would be an organization backing you up, including local representatives, legislatures, and different aid associations in different areas. We don’t have any of this.
Our important focus is on traditional methods. To pay a visit to each of the 122 district representatives once. Although it’s not a lot, we have encountered some who are willing to support us. For example, Hsinchu’s riverside is very particular. There was a movement in Taiwan protesting Evergreen Group there. In 1987, people surrounded that place for three days, that was probably the earliest self-organized social movement in Taiwan before the end of martial law. And now the local representative was a young person then, so he is more supportive towards us. Apart from that, there is still some local representatives who are DPP supporters but don’t like old Ker, some people have agreed to help set up a general assembly.
Other than that is young people. For example, Ker Chien-Ming keeps dragging Ko Wen-Je back to Hsinchu, emphasizing that they are old army buddies, using these types of means to get support from Hsinchu people. But in truth, the young people of Hsinchu won’t necessarily be convinced to vote for him. We now really are establishing different Hsinchu high school and high school alumni support organizations, and using the Internet to organize the young people of Hsinchu. Apart from that, we appreciate Mr. Yuan T. Lee supporting us, being willing to help advertise for us, and helping us stand up. Mr. Yuan T. Lee is also a Hsinchu person, this of course to us is very helpful.